EXCLUSIVE: Jessica Pels on Why She’s Sending Subscribers Face Masks With Their Cosmo September Issue

by Freya Drohan

Cosmopolitan just revealed actress Joey King as the cover star of its jam packed September issue. But what’s more, proving that they’re the most fun-but-informative mag in the game (ahem, “I’m not a regular mom, I’m a cool mom!), editor in chief Jessica Pels and her team also decided to send an ‘IRL’ gift to 10,000 subscribers, packaging a cute face mask with every edition.

Hi Jessica! When did this idea to send masks to subscribers come about?
As we were working on the September issue, we were being hit every day with the news of Americans not wearing masks, an obviously infuriating thing since they’re so effective, necessary, and easy to wear. I knew then that this needed to be our “masks” issue—hence the big coverline (‘Wear a damn mask!’), the beauty feature all about masks, and the mask presence throughout the magazine (we’ve committed to putting masks on our models whenever possible for our outdoor shoots going forward). But we wanted to push it farther, as we always do, and try to help make change. So we’re sending 10,000 free masks packaged with our September issue to subscribers in the hardest-hit states. They’re from our new line of masks made in partnership with Echo, featuring cute lip prints—very Cosmo. In addition, Cosmo will be donating to Until We Do It, an organization delivering protective supplies to communities most at-risk for COVID-19.

(Photos by Eric Ray Davidson)

Was it difficult to figure out the logistics of sending masks to 10,000 subscribers?
It was a complicated endeavor, but well worth the effort. Our mission as a brand is to help young women live their smartest, best, most fun lives…which requires that they stay alive by wearing a mask!

Who have you been turning to for guidance and guidelines during the pandemic?
Just like our service about sexual health or our investigative reporting about big issues, we’re following the facts and the science.

Cosmo has a knack for speaking to readers in a particularly engaging and relatable way, how are you hoping sending masks with the mag will resonate with them?
It’s not just about the masks we’re sending—we’re driving the message hard across all our platforms, where we reach 72 million readers every month and appreciate the impact we can have on them.

Remember when you used to get mini products or gifts with every magazine? Those were the days! Is including something with the print edition something you may do again in the future?
We absolutely have some big innovative plans here…more TK!

What can you tell us about the September issue?
It’s a really fun read, I have to say, and is a great example of what we strive for in all of our work: a balance of fun escapism and important stuff to know right now that you haven’t seen yet in your feed. Joey King gives a truly great interview, and there’s a feature story about how doctors are gaslighting women about their breast implants that will blow your mind.

Cosmo revealed its diversity and inclusion plans in the Jaugust issue, how is progress coming along so far?
We are so dedicated to this cause—it’s a major focus of our efforts across all platforms and team members, as it should be. We formed an internal “inclusion committee” to help create daily accountability and oversight, and are having regular, nuanced discussions about how to do our best as a brand. The results will be more and more evident in our work, which we’re excited for readers to see.

(Photos by Eric Ray Davidson)

What is keeping you hopeful for the rest of 2020?
As Joey King just said in her cover interview, “2020 is a piece of sh*t.” But for the whole country and for my team and for me, it’s been a powerful time of transformation, in so many ways. Watching Cosmo become even more creative, nimble, and focused is the inspiration that’s driving me forward.

What are your WFH essentials?
Our deputy editor Rosa Heyman got a Boyata laptop stand, so I got a Boyata laptop stand, and it changed my life! That + keyboard + mouse + mouse pad = I feel like a real human while I’m working from home.

Ed note: Cosmopolitan’s face masks will also be available to pre-order on site from next week.

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